Search help

To enable you to use the archive to its full potential please use the search help below.

How do I search the archive?

There are several different ways of searching the UK Web Archive, depending on the information you already have and the information you are looking for.

If you already have details about a specific website

If you know the title of the website (usually the phrase most prominently displayed on the website and appearing to be its name) then choose the Website Title option on the Search the archive page.

If you know a word in the Title or in the URL of the website select the Website Title and URL option on the Search the archive page.

If you don't know the specific website you are looking for

If you are looking for a single website that you believe may be in the UK Web Archive but you don't know the title or the URL select the Full Text option on the Search the archive page. Use a phrase or a name that you think is most likely to be in the website and in that website alone. This will search across all the archived websites.

Full text search results are grouped by domain. To see all results for a specific domain you can click on the linked domain.

There are several options for narrowing your search. You can use quotations around your search term(s) to look for an exact match. You may also use the words AND and OR when using multiple search terms. By using the AND keyword between terms you will match results that have all the search terms included in the document. If you have sufficiently narrowed your search terms it should allow you to find the precise site that you are looking for. You may also narrow your search by selecting a date range, specific archiving agency or specific collection/subject.

On the results page you can futher narrow your search by content type, year and collection by using the filters on the right side of the full text search results page.

If you are less sure of your terms, use the Browse the archive by Subject search. This search will help you find websites on your particular subject. There is a small number of very broad category headings, such as "Art & Humanities" and "Science & Technology", which may help at the very beginning of your search, but you are likely to then quickly move on to the subjects within these categories e.g. within the "Education & Research" there is "Special Needs Education".

In time the UK Web Archive will provide more detailed subject headings than the current ones.

If you are looking for a number of websites or simply any information on a particular subject

If you know terms that are especially associated with your area of interest then a Full text search on the Search the archive page will retrieve web pages from across the whole UK Web Archive.

Alternatively, use the Browse the archive by Subject search and follow the instructions detailed in "If you don't know the specific website you are looking for" above.

Another way is to Browse by Special Collection. Each Special Collection is a group of websites, usually more than fifty and less than four hundred, brought together on a particular theme, either event-based (e.g The Olympic & Paralympic Games 2012), topical (e.g. The Credit Crunch Collection) or subject-oriented (e.g. The British Countryside Collections). These have been especially compiled by curators and other subject specialists to make useful and interesting special collections. They may be compiled in collaboration with an external organisation, such as the Women's Library or the Live Art Development Agency. They are arranged alphabetically by the title of the Special Collection. Event-based collections such as the European Parliament Elections 2009 clearly have an end date whereas a topical theme such as Pandemic Influenza may be ongoing as long as the theme is making a social impact. All websites within Special Collections are also indexed by Title, Full Text, and Subject Heading, so will be found by those types of searches too.

Finally, there is Browse by Website Title. This lists the entire archive alphabetically by the title of the website (titles that begin with numbers are listed at the beginning of the sequence). This can be used if you think you know the beginning of the website's title ("I know it was the Centre for Something") or, more likely, simply to enjoy the serendipity of finding sites you did not know you would like to visit.

If you don't find what you are looking for

If you have tried various search methods and have not found the site you are looking for it may be that the UK Web Archive has not yet archived it. This may be because it is out of scope or technically not archivable: typically a non-UK site or a database driven one, or a site generating dynamic web pages or operating the "robots.txt exclusion" (a technical setting that excludes it being archived). In that case, first try Other Web Archives. You may also wish to Nominate the live site for the UK Web Archive. Finally, you may wish to Contact the UK Web Archive for help.

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